Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Darwin - City and Litchfield National Park - Day 1 & 2

During my 6 days in Darwin and national parks I managed to take about 2,200 photos, so I've spent hours sorting them into files, discarding some, etc, etc...

It was a dream trip, with amazing natural wonders and I loved every minute of it, even the sore and hot feet at the end of the day, after all the walking and climbing!

I'll probably do 5 posts about the trip as there is so much to show.

Joining Tom for the SIGNS meme, please check his blog for other signs from around the world.

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Day 1 - Departed Perth on Sunday 19th September at 11am, landed in Darwin at 4pm. A 3,30h flight, with lunch and I managed to watch 2 movies. 

Travel to the Northern Territory involved an online application for a "border entry form" that can be applied for up to 7 days before travel and a 2G2 pass to re-enter Western Australia as a resident of the State, where you have to upload your vaccine certificate and declare your health status - no colds, coughs, etc.

I arrived by taxi at the Oaks Darwin Elan Hotel just before 5pm, met up with my 2 friends already at the hotel and we then walked to the very pretty and family friendly Waterfront, just 15min away.  Bonus: I managed to snap a few murals on the way too.

The Waterfront

Photos taken on the way to the Waterfront - a church, Smith street pedestrian mall, Chinese temple, the ruins of the Town Hall that remained after the 1974 cyclone, a lawned area with a food market and Chinese dancers

At 6,30pm we were back in the hotel's lobby to meet the other tour partners and our guide Paul. After the meeting we went to dinner at Tim's Surf & Turf in Litchfield street, just behind the hotel.

The tropical restaurant Tim's Surf & Turf - I chose prawns and rice

Day 2 - After breakfast, at 8,30am, the tour van picked up the group of 7 people  from the hotel, and we drove to Litchfield National Park.

Having breakfast outdoors

Our first coffee/toilet stop was at the Litchfield Tourist park, for the tour guide to pick up the National Park pass for the group. The park covers about 1500km2, near the town of Batchelor, 100km south-west of Darwin.

At the Litchfield Tourist Park Cafe - flowers at the park and our van

We then drove to the Termite Mounds.  

On one side of the parking lot, the cathedral termite mounds are impressive structures that can be as high as 4mt (13ft), constructed by termites that feed on grass. The mounds can live from 50 to 100 years and it's thought that a single termite queen can live for the entire life of the mound.

On the other side of the parking lot, the magnetic termite mounds have their thin edges pointing north-south and wide backs facing east-west. This regulates the temperature for the termites inside. They are built by a different termite and can be up to 2mt (6,5ft) high. These structures are unique to the Northern Territory. 

There are lots of boards with information about the different termites and constructions.

Our next stop was at Buley Rockhole, for our first refreshing swim.  Not many spots to sit and relax as the pool was surrounded by rocky terrain, but it was pretty with some gentle waterfalls and various swimming holes.

Florence Falls -  the easiest pool go get into, it had a couple of metal steps leading to the water. There were also a few boulders in the water where you could sit and rest after a swim and and a narrow area where people sat and relaxed just outside the pool. 

I didn't want to risk swimming to the falls as it can be very deep in certain areas, but a lot of people had foam pool noodles or other floating devices that made it easier to swim across the pool.

You can even see fish swimming in the clear water ...


Resting area surrounding Florence Falls

We drove to Tolmer Falls viewing platform above the gorge, to observe the highest falls in the national park. Swimming is not permitted in the pool below. There is a walking trail if you have the time or inclination.

Wangi Falls - the only spot in the national park where we had wi-fi for all service providers, not only for Telstra (main Australian phone/internet provider) customers. There was a Cafe near the car park with a small choice of sandwiches, hamburgers and coffees, and the group had lunch there.

Before our swim at Wangi Falls, those who wanted did the Loop Walk ...   after 800mt of walking and climbing we reached a platform, but all we could see were treetops and not the waterfalls and pool.  You could climb a further 800mt (2624ft) to actually have a view of the falls, but we were already tired and still wanted to enjoy a quick dip in the pool.

On the way up we saw spiders, bats and a few birds and critters that just scurried off as soon as they heard the humans coming.

The Golden Orb spiders


Our last stop was at Berry Springs, a former recreation centre for troops stationed at the Top End of the Northern Territory during World War II.
There was a main pool and a lower pool with a small waterfall accessed via a small flight of stairs, but with limited time we only swam in the main pool.

I can't really tell you which of the swimming holes was my favourite, they all had something special, and I wish we could have spent more time in each of them.

As you can see from the "Crocodile safety" signs below from Wangi Falls and Berry Springs, there is a low risk of salt water crocodiles, but our guide guaranteed us that they had never been seen in those pools. Freshwater crocodiles or "freshies" will not attack if not disturbed or threatened, but they won't kill as the "salties" do.

After our swim at Berry Falls it was time to drive back to Darwin and we were back at the hotel at about 5,30pm.

A quick shower and change of clothes and the view of the sunset from the hotel's window before going to dinner at Wharf One, at the Darwin Waterfront, where we ordered 4 small share plates, enough for the 3 of us.
Sunset from the hotel's window on the 22nd floor

Waterfront area - the restaurants are on the building at the end (top photo)

Wharf One restaurant - share plates

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, repacked and had an early night as we had to check-out of the hotel the following day after breakfast, and would be picked up at 8,30am for our 3 day trip to Kakadu National Park.

Map of Darwin's city centre - Our hotel was in Woods str (2nd from top, nr.27 on right)

Map of our itinerary in the Litchfield National Park:
We covered about 300km on the round trip,  in an 11 hour period with the various stops.


  1. ...2,200 photos, you were on a roll and I would have done the same.

    1. Thanks Tom, with so many amazing things it was hard not to take so many photos.

  2. Great account of the early stages of your trip, Sami. I will look forward to reading more. Kakadu is legendary so I will expect great things!

    1. Thanks David, Kakadu was amazing, you would love it there.

  3. Beautiful place and I love all the food. I always get stuck on the food.

    Awaiting the next installment.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

    1. Thanks Sandee, the food in Darwin was great.

  4. Litchfield Park sounds very nice. We never got to see it. The pools look so refreshing.

  5. Dearest Sami,
    Hope you still managed to take in the view without being behind the camera!
    Pieter and I only saw once a huge Termite mound in South Africa, along the interstate but our driver did not stop... Did you know that those termites are actually mushroom growers? The species of Termitomyces.
    Glad there were no crocs!

    1. Yes I certainly enjoyed the views without the camera. The tour guide told us there were over 300 termite species in Australia. I had no idea about termite growing mushrooms. Thanks Mariette.

  6. (Don't mind me, I'm just getting my OZ fix through your posts!)

    This is a part of Australia I have yet to explore. It's... a big place :-D I remember taking pictures of so many signs that look deliciously exotic to me.

    Golden orb spiders ring a bell... can they be found in Queensland too?

    1. Thanks Zhu. Yes those spiders can be found all around Australia, mainly in humid areas.

  7. Que passeio maravilhoso, Sami.
    Gostei imenso. Obrigada por nos ter mostrado locais que de outra forma eu nao conheceria.
    : )

    1. Obrigada Catarina, locais diferentes da cidade onde vivo.

  8. A piscina natural parece óptima

  9. So no crossing of a billabong then. When we were there we had to cross a few but must have been an other time of the year. It all looks as beautiful as I remember.

    1. No billabong crossing SC, it was still dry season. It was a beautiful part of Australia.

  10. Yes, that will be a fun here, when with Autumn/Winter the "normal" flu sets in.
    Did you visit "Tracy"?
    Litchfield, oh boy, I nearly crashed our car there - you bring back some memories and do I crave a croissant right now!
    Don´t know if we hit Buley Rockhole but some "waterhole" we did, too, back then ohhh, such joy!
    No. Was in the Kimberly.
    Oh, we missed so much - thank you for sharing, this is wonderful!!!
    Oh, beautiful.
    Oh. No. Glad I saw no golden spider! But the bat, so cute! "Hang in there" - "bet" they cannot hear the joke no more ;-) Aren´t they the cutest.
    Free WiFi????
    1999 is a loooong time ago.

    Low risk?! Sami!!!!
    Oh. This explains why the freshie left back then in Kakadu. Sad we didn´t know this, I really freaked out a bit.

    22nd floor, wow.

    More, please? I have Australia in my hand right now (kinda). A "sign" ;-)

    1. I saw a "Tracy" documentary at the Darwin museum. The golden spiders aren't poisonous apparently. I was more scared of the bats actually Iris, I don't find them cute at all, lol.

  11. I couldn't get over the fact you got fed real food on your flight into Darwin. Here in the states, they no longer give you food on flights. They don't even give out peanuts anymore, unless you are in first class. Lucky you!

    I enjoyed reading about the termite mounds. That was rather unusual, I thought.

    Wow, you must have loved swimming to visit so many pools and places to swim. glad you didn't see any crocs, at least. I look forward to the next installment. I can relate to the many photos. They are what make a trip memorable.

    1. We get served meals and drinks (wine included) in all flights, either breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on time of flight. The termite mounds can also be seen in some country areas of Western Australia, just made by different termites.


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